Ashley Judd Reflects On What Mental Illness 'Stole' From Late Mother Naomi Judd

Ashley Judd is sharing the story of her mother Naomi Judd’s suicide in hopes of helping others living with mental illness.

The “Double Jeopardy” actor appeared at the White House on Tuesday as part of the rollout for President Joe Biden’s new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, where she spoke about the late country singer’s legacy along with her own history of trauma.

Joining United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, suicide prevention activist Shelby Rowe and musician Aloe Blacc on stage, Ashley Judd said, “I’m here because I am my beloved mother’s daughter and on the day she died, which will be the two-year anniversary in one week, the disease of mental illness was lying to her.”

“And with great terror convinced her that it would never get better,” she said of her mom, who died in April 2022.

While Judd noted how her mother “left country music better than she found it,” she added, “She also lived most of her life with an untreated and undiagnosed mental illness that lied to her and stole from her. It stole from our family, and she deserved better.”

Ashley Judd and mother Naomi Judd attend the Los Angeles premiere of
Ashley Judd and mother Naomi Judd attend the Los Angeles premiere of "Olympus Has Fallen" in March 2013. Judd spoke about her mother's suicide at an event for the White House's new National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Barry King via Getty Images

Judd described her own experience with “childhood depression,” telling audiences, “I had a different experience because I went to treatment in 2006 for unresolved childhood grief and sexual trauma and I’ve been in good recovery for 18 years.”

“I’ve had a different outcome than my mother and I carry a message of hope and recovery,” she went on.

Judd has been frank about her grief since her mother’s passing almost two years ago.

In a raw interview with Diane Sawyer not long after her mom’s suicide, the actor revealed she was the one to discover her mother’s body, an experience she said left her with immense “grief and trauma.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 or chat for mental health support. Additionally, you can find local mental health and crisis resources at Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.